DPS board responds to protesters

Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 @ 8:18 PM
Updated: Friday, February 19, 2016 @ 4:42 PM

            DPS board responds to protesters
DPS board responds to protesters

UPDATE @ 4:40 p.m. (Feb. 19): Dayton Board of Education President Adil Baguirov issued a statement following a protest earlier today by residents who said they were “disrespected and discriminated against” when their comments were limited at a recent meeting.

Read Baguirov’s full statement here.

“The board acted in full accordance with Ohio law and policy when all speakers’ time, without exception, was condensed to allow for all of the 21 speakers to be heard during the hearing of the public segment at our Feb. 16 meeting. With board meetings lasting two hours, the public hearing segment is traditionally 15 to 20 minutes, and it is the long-standing policy of this board — unlike many other boards — to hear everyone while also respecting the agenda and time of all in attendance.

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“The board announced already during the Feb 16 meeting that it will hold a special meeting, separate from our business meeting, dedicated to this issue, when all concerned can be heard,” Baguirov stated.

UPDATE @ 12:56 p.m. (Feb. 19)

Several local residents on Friday protested the actions of Dayton’s school board, saying the board “disrespected and discriminated against” them at a school board meeting.

After 20 people registered to speak at Tuesday’s meeting — 17 of them on the issue of police in schools — board President Adil Baguirov announced that each speaker would get only one minute, rather than the usual three.

Baguirov said this was because the meeting was already scheduled to take three hours. Baguirov didn’t enforce the one-minute limit, often interjecting with “thank you,” around the two-minute mark as a signal for speakers to wrap up.

Racial Justice Now, a group active in school issues, argued that the decision to limit speakers “was targeted to silence black community members.”

They also took issue with Board Vice President Sheila Taylor telling Richard Cox of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to sit down because his time was up, calling her manner “unacceptable.”

“We want to make sure the community knows that they have every right to come down here,” said Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, director of RJN. “This is a public school district, they can voice their concerns, and no one should try to cut off their voices.”

Dayton Public Schools legal counsel Jyllian Guerriero said Baguirov has the authority to change or reformat the public comment period, per board policy BDDH. That policy reads, in part, “The Board President is responsible for the orderly conduct of the meeting and rules on such matters as the time to be allowed for public discussion, the appropriateness of the subject being presented and the suitability of the time for such a presentation.”

UPDATE @ 4:36 p.m. (Feb. 17)

Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, director of the Dayton chapter of Racial Justice Now, said the group is a grassroots parents organization with the goal of working with the school district around academics and providing resources to African American students.

“We’re responding to the school board’s vote back in January to pay Montgomery County sheriff’s officers to be stationed at our sporting events,” Sankara-Jabar said. “We think the money that they are using to pay these police officers is better spent on prevention and intervention … instead of criminalizing young people.”

She said the group did have a parent speak at last month’s board meeting, whom was subsequently thrown out of the school board meeting.

“That’s not how you treat parents, that’s not how you treat concerned community members who come to this school board to oppose something that you all are doing that we think is detrimental,” Sankara-Jabar said.

She said even though the contracts are already inked with Dayton police and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to police sporting events, she said the group has presented its own proposal to Dayton schools for items such as notifying parents and handling students with individualized education plans.

“We want a memorandum of understanding … to seriously limit law enforcement involvement with young people even during the school day,” Sankara-Jabar said. “We want to express that we understand the ideas behind it; some people think of the police as protection and as a safety measure. But if we’re real honest, many of us in the African American community … don’t look at the police as safety.”

(FIRST REPORT @ 8:18 p.m., Feb. 16) …UPDATED @ 11:16 p.m.: The Dayton Public Schools board meeting tonight became heated when close to 20 residents came to oppose the board’s decision to place Dayton police officers or Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies at school sporting events.

Several speakers expressed concerns about police treatment of young black men and asked the school board to reconsider.

When Anthony Roebuck, a leader of Stop Mass Incarceration, took the board to task in loud tones, the board called for security officers.

Then Board President Adil Baguirov called for a recess and Superintendent Lori Ward tried to deescalate the situation, moving security officers away from one speaker.

When Baguirov heard there were 20 speakers, he said each speaker would get only 1 minute, rather than 3 minutes. Numerous people in the audience complained bitterly, saying the board was unwilling to hear their concerns.

Several speakers continued with their comments after Baguirov asked them to wrap up.

DPS Superintendent Lori Ward said the school board had approved the police presence at games and special events after that recommendation was made by the district’s Athletic Board of Control. The law enforcement officers offer another layer of security on top of the school district’s own security officers.

“This was done in response to various fights that broke out and have had a very negative effect on the district and more widely on the city and the city’s image,” Baguirov said. “It’s only for sporting events. It’s not during regular school instruction hours.”

After all speakers were finished, Baguirov suggested the board reconsider the issue at its March meeting.

Board member Hazel Rountree instead called for a special meeting, solely on that topic. Board members agreed, although a date and time were not immediately set.

Baguirov said that meeting likely will be held in early March.